2015-12-24

The Complete Grace Message from Romans 5:1-5

The Christian world is full of sermons that preach only one side of a concept, such as grace. This is followed by posts that attack the other point of views. They seems unable to hold two polar attributes in a balanced (e.g. love and justice). Romans 5v1-5 provides a complete and true message on grace. We can see how some grace preachers err by stopping at verse 2 and some holiness preachers err by starting at verse 3. The complete view is given in the mind-map below:


Grace by Faith (Rom 5v1-2)
Grace is given and done by our Lord Jesus Christ (through His death and resurrection, see The Gospel and the Sinner's Prayer - We Got it in Wrong Order).  While grace is freely available to all, it is only given and received by the person who wants it and he has to receive it by faith. See "Grace is Unmerited Favor" - This Common Definition is wrong for the correct meaning of grace and the difference between grace and mercy).

The Result of Grace Received - Begins with Justification and to end with Glory
  1. We immediately are justified resulting in
  2. We have peace with God. 
  3. We have hope of the glory of God.
    Hope is assurance of things received now to be delivered in the future. It is like making an on line order and waiting for the goods to be delivered some time in future. In the meantime, the ordered goods are on their way to you.
  4. The new rebirth children of God status and the right standing with God with the promised of greater realization in the future enables and fully equipped us to live out this life, in the mean time till Christ return, to overcome the challenges and trails throw in our way and to come out victoriously. We are like a seed with the complete life ingredients, the DNA, within. The planted seed needs good environment and fertilisers to grow up to maturity and produces good fruit. This is where many grace preachers missed. They failure to differentiate kinds and timing of the new status and rights of the grace of God. Forgiveness, justifications and rebirth are all immediate. But there are more to come. There is time for growth and time for fruit. 
The Power of Overcoming Grace 
Grace gives us the new birth and continues to give us the power to overcome the challenges of life. It is not possible by our own efforts to live out the life that we should especially under the pressures and temptations of the world and the devils. However, we must and have the confidence to overcome. Because of that confidence, we can then rejoices in tribulations. We are not afraid of tribulations because we know we will win and can see the benefits that tribulations bring to us.

Grace enables us to say like in Jame 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. And also as in 2Pet 1:3-8 shown in the mind map above. Tribulations develop our character when we are grace enabled. Tribulations will defeat us if we rely on our own strengths (e.g. Peter denying Christ thrice after Jesus was captured). Like what James and Peter had said, Paul said tribulation produces patience, then experience. The original word for experience stands for trustiness, proof, or proven. Some translation used proven character. We are refined and made better through going through trails victoriously.

One victory adds on to another and step by step, over time, we develop greater character strength. As we have proven the hope and promise of the glory of God over time, our faith and hope grows with time. We dare to believe bigger things and have greater visions from and of God. As we acted out upon the visions given to us, we will release that His promises are true and we will not be put to shame. We will be able to start and finish well to the glory of God.  We are charged up on the inside with the love of God, with the assurance of God's love for us and also the same compassionate love of God for others. On the outside, the loving care of God and His angels open up the ways for us. There are difficulties but we are confident we can overcome in Christ. So that Paul can says Phil 4v13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Through trails and tribulations, we experience the love of God that we only believe by faith at the start.

The way we overcome is not by pushy force but by the drawing power of love. When the typical reaction to others attack is to counter-attack, we may do it differently because of our love within. We may sometimes give in to win more of their heart. We may sometimes fight with truth and win but yet we forgive and take not. We capture and let go and repeat them until they change their heart to respect and love us. That is the way of more than conqueror. See The Meaning of "More than Conquerors",

Conclusions:
Having the complete picture on Grace enables you to live a meaningful life with impact for yourself and God. God is glorify through your testimonies. Do not let the grace of God be wasted on just our own benefits but let the grace and power of God be lifted up through your testimony of impact on the world around you. Have a meaningful and joyful Christmas and a more purposeful New Year. God empower you to be His effective witness.

Lim Liat (c) 24 Dec 15

2015-12-19

The Gospel and the Sinner's Prayer - We Got it in Wrong Order

The Gospel is first about Jesus Christ and there is usually no mention of sins! Yet in the typical sinner's prayer, it starts with "I admit I am a sinner ...."! Such a wrong order has great significance in the way we share the Gospel and the way we live our new life. That also explain the weakness of many believers lives. Let's see the details...
The Pauline Gospel
A condensed gospel is shared by Paul in Roman 1:2-6 as in:
  • 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
    (Jesus the Messiah is prophesized in the OT Bibles)
  • 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh
    (Jesus came in the flesh of man as descendant of David)
  • 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
    (He is the Son of God as proven by His resurrection from the dead by the Power of the Holy Spirit)
  • 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
    (All man, Jews and Gentiles, can receive His grace by obedient trust in Him).
  • 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
    (Including the Romans, a kind of Gentiles).
We can quickly see that the Gospel is about Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, who came in the fresh, who died and was resurrected as proof of His Godliness and Power, and we can receive Him by faith because of His grace given to us. There is no mention of sins. Salvation is more than just forgiveness of sins but rather a New Creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Sin is an obstacle to be overcome but that is not the Gospel. The gospel is about us believing in Jesus Christ as God's Son and thereby be willing to accept His Lordship over us that we may be rebirthed as God's children( Gal 3:26) and to grow up into maturity as Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29-30). We are justified and glorified!!! 

Consider another often quotes verses for salvation: 
  • Rom 10:9-12  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  
  • 10  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  
  • 11  For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."  
  • 12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
Again, there is no mention of sins. Getting rid of sins is not the main objective of salvation. Getting us to be born again to take on the likeliness of Jesus through His resurrection is. Sin is automatically removed when we are born again.  Fighting sins and overcoming sins could be seen as our efforts like in any other religion. But being born again into the Family of God is nothing that we as man can do. It remove man's effort and work and nothing that man can proud of! Eph 2:8-10
    • Eph 2:8-10  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(We are saved for good work that God may be glorified with us!)
    John's Gospel
    John simplified it into a single verse:
    • 1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ,
    • and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 
    We are called by our names. A name identifies the person. John said God's will is simply this, believe in His Son Jesus Christ ..... who He is, what He did and do, and be like Him. Loving one another is the subsequent testimony that we are indeed rebirthed with His character. (1Jn 4:8  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. )
    • Joh 3:16  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

    Peter's Gospel:
    1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1Pe 1:4  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 
    1Pe 1:5  who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

    No mention of sins but about the great inheritance and power! 

    The Sinner's Prayer:
    A typical sinner's prayer is :

    Heavenly Father, I come to you in prayer asking for the forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven, and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I ask you right now to come in to my life and be my personal Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and wiIl Worship you all the day’s of my Life!. Because your word is truth, I confess with my mouth that I am Born Again and Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus Name, Amen.

    The confessions are all correct. The only problem is that it is in the wrong order and confusing the main objective (new life in Christ) with the sub-objective of forgiveness of sins. 

    The Implications:
    The sinner's prayer makes forgiveness of sins as the main goal. Making sins as the focus is the sure way to be in bondage of sins. The best ways to overcome sins is by knowing our righteousness in Christ. Knowing who we are in Christ will keep us away from sins because our mind are preoccuppied with Christ and there is no time for thinking about sins ... of course, the devils and the world will constantly tempt us to try to get our attention. We also know that the time that we are most prone to temptations are times of success, celebrations and nothing important to do. 

    The Gospel is about Christ. About who Christ is and what he has done and wanting us to be. We are a new creation in Christ. We are children of God. We have His righteousness and His mind. We are to live out His power and character in us as testimonies to the world. Think about His creative power and His work and be like Him. Such pure and wonderful thoughts will charge us up and keep us away from temptations and sins. The sinner's prayer, the sin consciousness, have make the gospel a passive and negative ones. No wonder many believers are weak. Get back to the right Gospel of Jesus Christ, God in us. It not about sin, but about Christ in us. That is positive and pro-active gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Lim Liat (c) 19-12-2015



    2015-12-17

    A Life of Joy with Psalm 16

    A life of true joy that depends not on any good happenings but hold true no matter what can be found in Psalm 16. It all depends on the choice and commitment we make. The answer is found in the Lord whom we seek for wisdom and guidance and we follow His instructions. The outcome is certain --- a joyfilled life no matter what. Here are the details ...
    It all begins with making your choice ....

    Here is the mind-map:


    If you prefer the text, here it is:

    • My Choice
      • Say Yes to God
        • Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. Psa 16:1 My God as my fortress of Security
        • "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you." Psa 16:2My God as my Goodness and Righteousness
        • The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. Psa 16:5 I live on Him - He is my Heavenly Father
      • The community of saints
        • As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. Psa 16:3 I have a community of fellow believers
      • Say No to idols
        • The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. Psa 16:4I will not join them, those that pursue idols and other worldliness. I will not use their methods.
      • Focus on God and Fear is gone
        • I have set the LORD always before me; v8 I follow Him all the time; not occasionally but always.
        • because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psa 16:8 I with Him and He with me --- there is no panic
    • The Blessings
      • Guidance
        • I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. Psa 16:7 Seek and Get Guidance from Him.
          Internalize His Words that our heart will lead us.
          Follow Him wholeheartedly; not in the mind only.
          Work OUT His instructions.
          Check with our hearts filled of His Words.
        • You make known to me the path of life; 16v11 His Words and Instructions lead to true life.
      • Good Outcomes
        • The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psa 16:6 Follow the righteous paths of God and the results will be good.
      • Joy
        • in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psa 16:11 Then we shall have joy and pleasures no matter what.
        • Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. Psa 16:9
          Joy brings health and security.
          Neh 8:10 the joy of the LORD is your strength."
      • Worry Not
        • For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. Psa 16:10 My life is secured in the Lord. I will not be abandoned.
    • Applications
      Choose, Follow and Stay with the Lord our God no matter what.
      When there is fear or crisis strikes, go to the Lord for strengths.
      If we have been in the presence of God often, we shall panic not.
      If you want happiness then go to God for true joy that depends not on any happenings.
    Lim Liat(c) 17 Dec 2015

    2015-12-01

    Making Decisions with the Mind of Christ

    Believers are encouraged to follow the mind of Christ within them. James 3:17 shows us the attributes of God's decision making which we are to follow, in our speeches, behavior and work. There are eight key points which is shown below. We can looked up several translations to get a clearer meaning. So here is the list:
    James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is :
    1 pure (clean),
    2 peaceable,
    3 gentle,
    4 open to reason(willing to yield, submissive, reasonable),
    5 full of mercy ( compassion)
    6 good fruits,
    7 impartial (nonjudgmental, unwavering)
    8 sincere ( without hypocrisy).

    The Applications:
    How can we apply what we learned? By using them as a checklist.

    Before I speak or do anything, I should ask:

    1. Is my motive pure? Do I have ulterior motive that is not disclosed in my speech and action?
    2. Does it bring peace or strife?
    3. Is it gentle in approach or not rough and manipulative?
    4. Is it reasonable? Am I open to accept others feedback and opinions?
    5. Is it compassionate and kind?
    6. Will the outcomes be good? How can I tell and be sure? What are the measures and targets?
    7. Is it fair to all involved (fair is not equal treatment but according to their needs)? Are there some excluded and why?
    8. Am I speaking the truth? Is the program transparent? Can I be hold accountable?
    What is the thing you are planning to do? Can you use the above checklist?

    Lim Liat (c) 1 Dec 2015

    Paul's View - Phi 4
    Paul tells us not to worry but to pray to God and focus our mind on these six/eight things. Someone from the Internet suggests THINK. We can merge them together to get a more complete list.


    Update 14 Oct 2016